Nigeria is leading nine other countries with the highest number of unserviceable aircraft, Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika has said.
The minister said Nigeria is ahead of other countries, such as Germany, United Kingdom (UK), Argentina and Malaysia with 69.2 per cent global rating above the others.
Citing a study carried out by CH Aviation, a company that collects and publishes information about the airline business and based in Chur, Switzerland, Sirika said such rating for Nigeria was not a good indication that its aviation industry had matured.
He stressed that the rating was a wake-up call for Nigeria’s operators to fix the challenges besetting its airline business.
Sirika, who spoke at the Abuja Airport when Air Peace received its Embraer 195-E2 brand new aircraft from Brazil, said many carriers collapsed in the country because the investors did not understand commercial aviation.
The minister said Nigeria was atop in the unsavoury rating not because there was lax regulation or the integrity of air safety was called to question but because airline operators were grappling with challenges.
He listed such challenges to include access to capital, inadequate funding, high cost of offshore maintenance of airplanes, insufficient or lack of funds to carry out aircraft engine/part change, which he said forced the equipment to remain on ground for longer time than desirable.
Sirika said investment in aviation requires courage and passion, adding that existing and failed operators should consider the choice and age of aircraft, which often has huge impact on the cost of operations.
He said: “Sadly, airline business is not supposed to be for just anybody but for people with knowledge of the sector; those who are ready to listen to professional counsel, not just those with deep pockets.
“Many airlines have failed in Nigeria, not because there is no huge market potential or the propensity of the populace to travel by air but because the investors/operators have not considered using the appropriate equipment.
“This is part of the reasons Nigeria tops other nine countries in the world with the highest number of unserviceable aircraft.
“Unless an operator considers the type and age of an airplane, which invariably will affect the cost of maintenance, insurance premium and other factors, many airlines will have challenges in achieving sustainability and profitability.”
For airlines in Nigeria to keep afloat and remain profitable, Sirika urged its managers and investors to seek professional advice, understand the market’s dynamics as well as match equipment choice with appropriate pricing.